Hiccups with COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits Processes Put Spotlight on Lack of Modernization of the Mainframe Infrastructure
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s open call for COBOL programmers because of system failures in supporting unemployment benefits processing and distribution is completely missing the point.
The fact that the mainframe system could not handle the workload and increase in demand is not the fault of the app and it’s certainly not an issue of the app’s programming language. It is a matter of upgrading the mainframe’s infrastructure to sustain the increased workload.
Governments and institutions have allowed their systems to stagnate, neglecting to invest in agile, newer technologies with greater scalability to keep up with increased workload. In fact, to date the system was working well with most believing “if it ain’t broke…,” don’t bother to “fix” it.
The challenges lie with a lack of maintenance and modernization of the mainframe’s infrastructure. If there’s any type of skill shortage, it is that of mainframe system programmers whose mainframe expertise is unique due to the proprietary nature of the system. Any dependency on a unique, proprietary set of skills is a risk for any organization and, therefore, the resolution lies in opening up the system to cloud-native, modern architectures.
To summarize, had organizations invested in integrating cloud technology with their mainframe infrastructure, they would have been benefiting from quick scaling and fast-paced app development on the cloud side to process their mainframe data.
In today’s current crisis, the cloud serves to decrease the dependency of on-prem hardware and infrastructure, and offloads the work from the mainframe infrastructure to increase capacity.